By Carolina Sierra MS, CNS, Nutrition Services Coordinator
All of us have a unique way of doing things, from the way we love to how we practice religion, dress ourselves, and prepare our meals. These customs and habits are all part of who we are, determined through acquired knowledge, values, attitudes, and experiences – in other words, by our culture.
At Mary’s Center, we understand the impact that culture can have on effective communication, experience of illness, and ultimately, health outcomes and disparities. Our providers embrace all cultures and communities to build better futures.
Our Patient-Centered Approach to Nutrition
“I have been told previously to cut tortillas out of my diet,” said one of our patients recently. “It is very difficult for me to eliminate tortillas. It is what I’ve known my whole life.”
Our nutritionists realize there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to healthy eating. We care profoundly about each of our patients. Talking about how you nourish yourself discloses not only your relationship with food, but also your relationship with your roots, your experiences, and your values.
In the instance above, our nutritionist responded, “I hear you! Our foods are connected to our culture and can even take us back to those happy memories that we have sharing family meals. There is no need to avoid completely. We can start implementing the plate method so you will still have your tortillas, or any other traditional food that is part of your meals, but in the best portion for you!”
Through the patient-centered approach, we embrace you and your story, which ultimately translates into better health outcomes and compliance.
Our patient-centered care principles are:
- Every patient is unique, respected and valued: We listen carefully to your values, beliefs, preferences, successes, and limitations to assist you in making a nutrition plan that is achievable and realistic to your unique living situation.
- Coordination of care: Sometimes patients have real challenges accessing healthy foods; when this is the case, we employ the Social Change Model and connect you to resources to assist you in achieving optimal health.
- Set realistic goals: We engage in productive conversations, providing a space for you to ask questions and fully understand the information given so you can set realistic, achievable, and measurable goals.
- Lead patients to success: We listen with empathy, using motivational interviewing skills to help you evaluate how willing, able, and ready you are to make a change, and then together we evaluate your success in implementing actions to achieve your health goals.
We are here to help!
All of our providers, from doctors to health educators, social workers, and therapists, deliver comprehensive patient-centered culturally appropriate care to better support you and your family. Our bilingual staff and language line services facilitate conversations between providers and patients. Many of us share similar cultural backgrounds, and even when this is not the case, we strive to ensure that you feel welcome and appreciated. Our goal is to serve our communities and make them stronger!